Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Salix monticola


SPECIES: Salix monticola
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Esser, L. 1992. Salix monticola. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : SALMOT SYNONYMS : Salix padophylla Rydb. Salix pseudomonticola Ball. Salix pseudomonticola var. padophylla (Rydb.) Ball. SCS PLANT CODE : SAMO2 COMMON NAMES : mountain willow cherry willow serviceberry willow white willow false mountain willow TAXONOMY : The scientific name for mountain willow is Salix monticola Bebb ex. Coult. There are no varieties or forms. Hybridization and introgression with Barclay willow (S. barclayi), Mackenzie willow (S. rigida), and low blueberry willow (S. myrtillifolia) may occur [15,18,27,34]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Salix monticola
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Mountain willow occurs in the Rocky Mountain region from Alaska to central Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and eastern Utah [3,15]. Scattered populations occur in the Pacific Northwest, Montana, Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota [3]. In Canada, mountain willow occurs from British Columbia eastward to Labrador and Quebec and northward to Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories [5,15,38]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES22 Western white pine FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES44 Alpine STATES : AK AZ CO ID MT NM OR SD UT WA WY AB BC NT ON PQ SK YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 15 Black Hills Uplift KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest K017 Black Hills pine forest K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest K021 Southwestern spruce - fir forest K052 Alpine meadows and barren SAF COVER TYPES : 201 White spruce 202 White spruce - paper birch 203 Balsam poplar 204 Black spruce 206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir 208 Whitebark pine 210 Interior Douglas-fir 215 Western white pine 216 Blue spruce 217 Aspen 218 Lodgepole pine 235 Cottonwood - willow 251 White spruce - aspen 252 Paper birch 253 Black spruce - white spruce 254 Black spruce - paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Mountain willow is a common thicket-forming shrub of streambanks and moist slopes in the arctic and forested regions of Alaska and the Yukon [3,14]. Mountain willow can also be found in floodplain thickets on rivers and grows on recent alluvial deposits characterized by exposed mineral soil, low moisture content, and absence of permafrost [22]. Mountain willow is best adapted to a cool, moist northern environment but is also found in warmer, more temperate climates. In these more temperate climates, mountain willow occurs at middle to rather high elevations (6,000 to 10,500 feet [1,800-3,100 m]) in the mountains along riparian zones [14,15,36]. Published classifications describing mountain willow as a dominant or codominant in community types are listed below: Classification of the riparian vegetation of the montane and subalpine zones in western Colorado [4]. Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho [29].


SPECIES: Salix monticola
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Wildlife: Mountain willow is an important food source for moose, deer small mammals, beaver, snowshoe hares, songbirds, and game birds, including ruffed grouse and ptarmigan [14,26,37]. Mountain willow from Wyoming to Alaska provides browse for moose [14]. Honey bees use the pollen and nectar of mountain willow as a food source for brood rearing [2]. Livestock: In south-central Colorado, browse suitability ratings for mountain willow are listed as high for elk and cattle and moderate for deer and sheep [30]. Mountain willow is an important source of browse for cattle in riparian areas [33]. PALATABILITY : Most willows are palatable to livestock and big game [2]. Palatability of willows increases as the growing season advances [25]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : Mountain willow characteristically produces dense thickets along streams and rivers, which provide thermal and hiding cover for elk, deer, and moose. Branches are used by beavers in the construction of dams and lodges [26]. Mountain willow also provides shade and cover for fish [26]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Mountain willow is useful in stabilizing streambanks and providing erosion control on severely disturbed sites [14]. Mountain willow is an important invader of sites disturbed by man or natural phenomena because of its ability to produce roots and root crown shoots, which provide for quick recovery [41]. A study was conducted at Sheep Creek near Fort Collins, Colorado, a typical western headwater stream. By the late 1940's, the riparian zone bordering Sheep Creek was practically denuded of vegetation. Three exclosures were built to improve fisheries habitat. Limited grazing was allowed in the exclosures for 7 of the 30 years the exclosures existed. Mountain willow cover averaged eight and a half times greater in the ungrazed exclosures than in adjacent grazed areas [33]. Mountain willow was unable to reach its maximum height on streambanks that had been grazed even though grazing pressure in the Sheep Creek Allotment had been reduced by two-thirds over a time span of 50 years. It is apparent that some rest from grazing is needed so healthy stands of willow can establish in riparian zones [33]. The utilization of willows for riparian habitat improvement is widespread because they are easy to obtain, inexpensive, usually locally acclimated, and provide a good benefit/cost ratio [26]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Willow establishment along riparian zones is an effective management tool that yields positive benefits to a number of fish and wildlife species, as well as providing necessary protection to the stream environment [26]. Heavy livestock utilization of riparian areas can lead to severe degradation unless managed properly [33].


SPECIES: Salix monticola
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Mountain willow is a native, erect shrub 3 to 12 feet (1.5-4 m) tall, and usually forming dense clumps [3,5]. The trunk of mountain willow is smooth or slightly cracked. The wood is fine-grained and soft and has no sapwood-heartwood line [8]. Mountain willow has a remarkable characteristic of plasticity; its growth form adapts readily to a wide variety of habitats [14]. Branching habit and foliage characteristics vary greatly depending on site conditions [14]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: Mountain willow is dioecious. The fruit is contained in a dehiscent capsule that releases many seeds that are then dispersed by wind or water. Optimum seed production occurs between 2 and 10 years [14]. The flowers of mountain willow are mostly, but not exclusively, insect-pollinated. Bees are the chief pollinating agents [10,14]. The seeds of mountain willow are short-lived and germinate immediately on moist mineral substrates with high relative humidity and in full sunlight [14]. Germination is inhibited on sites with a continuous cover of tree litter [7,14]. Seed germination occurs over a broad temperature range, from 41 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (5-25 deg C). This appears to be a compensatory mechanism because of the short seed life [7,41]. This adaptation to a wide range of temperatures is particularly important in interior Alaska, where surface soil temperatures may vary over a relatively wide range [41]. Vegetative reproduction: Mountain willow sprouts readily from the root crown or basal stem [14,32]. It will root from stem cuttings or root fragments on moist to wet sites. Mountain willow will sprout vigorously following cutting regardless of cutting season, but vigor is more pronounced if cutting occurs during the dormant season [7,14]. Mountain willow exhibits early growth from both seed and sprout; but vegetative reproduction of willow was six times greater than willow growing from seed on a 6-year-old burn in Alaska [14]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : In Alaska and northern Canada, mountain willow is found in wet areas such as heaths, riverbeds, and streams [3]. In interior Alaska, mountain willow occurs in glacial drift and on river floodplains that are nutrient-rich [14]. The best growth occurs in moist, alluvial bottomlands, but mountain willow can be found growing on a variety of substrates. In the Intermountain region, mountain willow is best represented in riparian communities within the middle-to upper-elevation forest of subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and in the forest-alpine transition zone above the limit of contiguous forests, dominated by whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) [21]. Soils: Mountain willow is usually found on moist sandy or gravelly soils but is adaptable to a wide variety of soils [37]. It will tolerate moderately alkaline soils but does poorly in extremely acidic of alkaline conditions. The general pH range for willows is 5.5 to 7.5 [14]. Growth of mountain willow is severely reduced when water levels are maintained at or above the root collar for extended periods [14]. Mountain willow is also shade intolerant and grows best in full sunlight [14,37]. Plant associates: Mountain willow is commonly associated with Booth willow (Salix boothii), Geyer willow (Salix geyeriana), Drummond willow (Salix drummondiana), alder (Alnus spp.), river birch (Betula occidentalis), lichens (Cladonia spp.), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), water sedge (Carex aquatilis), rush (Juncus spp.), bluegrass (Poa spp.), and mosses (Polytrichum spp.) [4,16,29]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Mountain willow occurs in initial to early seral plant communities along river systems of interior Alaska. Mountain willow is a pioneer species that becomes established after disturbances such as fire, logging or recent alluvial deposits resulting from floodplain processes [39]. Mountain willow has low shade tolerance and therefore loses dominance on sites that are heavily forested or succeeded by more shade-tolerant species [14]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Mountain willow flowers in May, before the leaves appear, through July [34]. The fruit ripens soon after flowering, followed by seed dispersal in early to midsummer [14,41].


SPECIES: Salix monticola
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Mountain willow is a fire-tolerant shrub that sprouts readily from from the root and root crown after being top-killed by fire [19,23]. It produces numerous, minute seeds that are dispersed by wind, and which are important in colonizing recently burned areas [23]. Willows that invade by seeding-in have a slower growth rate than those that sprout from the root crown after fire [14]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community) Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Salix monticola
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Mountain willow is a fire-tolerant shrub that has a rapid postfire regeneration period [30]. It will sprout readily from the root or root crown after being top-killed by fire. Frequent fires can eventually deplete carbohydrate levels below minimums necessary for growth and reflowering and eliminate mountain willow [19]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Mountain willow is frequently found in early successional stage plant communities after fires because of its ability to sprout vigorously from the root-crown or roots [39]. Mountain willow seeds need a nutrient-rich mineral seedbed to germinate. The chance of mountain willow establishing after a fire lessens as available mineral soil seedbeds become occupied by faster growing herbaceous species and mosses [7]. Mountain willow is greatly favored by fire in most habitats and it can become the dominant cover in areas that have a history of frequent natural fire [14]. Fire is not favored in lowland spruce stands in Alaska because of the prevalent green understory, mainly willows [32]. Fire severity affects the mode of willow postfire recovery. Following light-severity fires most willows recover quickly, sending up new shoots from undamaged root crowns. Few if any seedlings establish following this type of fire because the partially consumed organic soil layers comprise an unfavorable seedbed. Following severe fire, however, the primary mode of recovery is seedling establishment. Severe fires that burn into organic soils kill willows, but expose mineral soils which provide excellent seedbeds [41]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed fire is widely used as a wildlife management tool to rejuvenate decadent willow stands and stimulate sprouting [14]. Early seral communities created by fire can increase the carrying capacity of winter range for moose in interior Alaska [40]. Fires increase the amount of browse available for herbivores because browse species such as willow proliferate in early postfire succession [19]. Recurring fires within some parts of the boreal forest have allowed aspen and willow to replace coniferous forests [32]. The tendency of willows to expand quickly following fires and other disturbances and to form dense thickets inhibits natural regeneration of conifers. Prescribed burning can reduce initial competition from willow in areas to be planted with cultivated species [14].


SPECIES: Salix monticola
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Res. Note PNW-267. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 7 p. [16870] 40. Wolff, Jerry O. 1978. Burning and browsing effects on willow growth in interior Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(1): 135-140. [3500] 41. Zasada, J. C.; Viereck, L. A. 1975. The effect of temperature and stratification on germination on selected members of Salicaceae in interior Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 5(2): 333-337. [6989]